By Jason Joshua Garcia
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – The Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) is expected to gain the attention of more corporate clients and players in the aviation industry with the opening, here, on Monday, August 26, of a facility for aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the MRO project by business aviation services provider Aviation Concepts Technical Services Inc. (ACTSI) will boost the agency’s program for the full development of the Subic airport as a 24/7 hub for business aviation.
“We have long dreamed of developing the SBIA into a business and general aviation (BA/GA) airport in the country, and this project is one huge step towards realizing that vision,” Eisma said yesterday, August 29.
“We are banking on the strategic location of Subic in the Asia-Pacific region to boost SBIA’s chances to become a regional player in the MRO business,” she added.
ACTSI, which is the maintenance arm of Falconer Aircraft Management, Inc., an affiliated company of global port management firm International Container Terminal Serives, Inc. (ICTSI), has upgraded close to 18,000 square meters of hangar space at SBIA.
Under its 25-year lease agreement with the SBMA, ACTSI intends to provide hangar parking, corporate jet maintenance, repair and overhaul, as well as aircraft corrosion preventive solutions.
ACTSI’s large-sized aircraft users will also be able to enjoy easy take-offs and landings with the extensive 9,000-feet long runway at the SBIA.
In last Monday’s launch, the ACTSI hangar easily accommodated a 2010 Gulfstream Aerospace GIV-X (G450), which is more than 89 feet long and with a wingspan of more than 77 feet. A helicopter was also parked inside the facility.
ACTSI General Manager John O’Meara and president and chief executive officer Fernando Gaspar led the soft launch of the Subic hangar with Senator Richard Gordon as guest of honor.
The senator, who initiated the establishment of the SBIA when he was SBMA chairman, welcomed the business venture of ACTSI and pointed out that the airport is one of the strategic advantages of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
The Subic airport started out in 1951 as the Naval Air Station Cubi Point of the United States Navy and was converted into a commercial airport under the SBMA in 1992.
The SBMA has since marketed SBIA for its strategic location, it being only 1.5 hours away from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and just 3 hours away from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
SBMA Chairman Eisma also noted that in a forum sponsored last year by the Hong Kong-based Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA), aviation executives expressed enthusiasm about developing Subic into a fully integrated aerospace park and aviation hub.
She added that enthusiasm was further bolstered by the concrete support of the Philippine government which allocated P553 million to help get the Subic airport running by improving its equipment and intensifying the airport marketing campaign.
“Along this line, we are now working to revive domestic and international flight operations at the SBIA; regain the SBIA’s status as an international airport; and settle pending issues to make Subic a 24/7 air terminal,” Eisma also said.